The morning was foggy and overcast, but by the time we started, it had cleared and we had wonderful, soft light and a really good hiking mood.
I always wanted to introduce my hiking friends, but I don’t have a nice photo of the two of them together. But you always see them in the pictures. Nino and Pavels have been together for 7 years, 5 of them married and both are in their early 30’s. Nino studied tourism in Latvia and that’s where they met. Pavels is Latvian and has done quite some different jobs. Shortly before corona they founded their travelagency, which I found in the internet. They seemed likeable to me and so we met right at the beginning in Tbilisi and the internet impression also matched “in real life”. And because I like to have more personal contacts with my partner agencies and it was also a good fit with them, we walked together and got on really well. Now we hope to have many clients together!
Nino is quite small, an absolute minimalist when it comes to trekking luggage and likes to be slightly ahead. Pavels has diabetes and has to manage his energy a bit and fortunately doesn’t run away because of that. We are therefore a rather slow but steady group, also because of my hiking pace. Nino is taking lots of pictures. Pavels knows a lot about animals, which was very practical.
So we started with some photos:
We walked a short distance back to the sign warning about dogs and then turned off to climb up a hillside.
Nino was a little way ahead and when the forest ended just before the top, it happened: 3 angry yapping dogs raced towards her. And from below I could see quite impressively what you do then: shout at them, threaten them with sticks and then hold the sticks up. As a result, one dog even moved away. You have to make it clear to the animals that it is not a good idea to attack you and that it could end badly for the dogs. For the dogs, lifting the sticks up is like standing up and being quite tall. Nino alone would probably have had a bad chance, but then two of us came after her. She kept the yapping dogs at bay and then the three of us stood there with sticks raised and pepper spray in our hands (Pavels had some with him too). The dogs were still very angry. Slowly, without turning our backs on them, we moved away in another direction and eventually we were out of their zone. It had all taken a relatively long time. On the one hand, I was still completely tense and afraid, but on the other hand it showed me impressively how to manage not to be attacked. The bad thing with me is that I’m afraid and the dogs smell it and want to attack me. I have to see how I can reduce that. The two of them were quite sure that we would get through all dog encounters without a real attack – and so I slowly gained a bit of confidence. To say it in advance: it would not be our only dog encounter.
There are a few more rules: always be on the lookout for flocks of sheep (the shepherd is not always on hand) and individual homesteads or something. And thus notice the dogs in good time. In the forest, on the other hand, you can be very calm and carefree, there are none. Even directly in the village it is very unlikely that something will happen.
We reached the top of the saddle, where it was very beautiful, and took a rest.
Here we could see our hiking route – it would go up this valley
However, it was not as easy and beautiful as it seemed, as you first had to descend deep through the forest, cross a river and then climb up again on the other side.
I have to admit: I was pretty exhausted. It was also a bit humid and with only up-down-up, I also had the feeling that I wasn’t making any progress. 15 km were on the schedule, but they included 1,000 metres of ascent and descent. It started to drizzle a bit, but we came to a village and hoped for a coffee. But alas, no chance. We saw no one – except 2 turkeys.
After that it was easier to continue, or rather it was a road track up above a river. It had stopped raining again. However, the path was quite long, as there were repeated cuts with rivers rushing down, where you sometimes had to take off your shoes.
And then Dartlo was in sight:
In Dartlo there were finally these defence towers, which I had heard about but had not seen anywhere. There are different defence towers: those where you can light a fire with smoke at the top to communicate with others about attacks, and those for living in troubled times. Usually women and animals lived downstairs and the men on the next floor.
In Dartlo, the rain started again and stayed until the next morning. Nevertheless, I went out again in the morning to take some photos, which I show here now. Dartlo is very impressive with its old walls.
We were living in the highest house of the village with a very kind family.
The funniest thing was that the man is in the army and was stationed in Bischofswiesen for a few months. So he even knew Ruhpolding and could still speak a few words of German. Even though I liked all the accommodation in principle, this was my favourite. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of the rooms, because they were also very old and traditional. In the photo of the family, you can see how the existing rocks were used as a wall.
I was very tired and glad that the next day we didn’t have so much distance and altitude to cover. But the day turned out to be somewhat different from what I had imagined…..